Saturday, November 29, 2008

A response to Teach for America

In prior posts I explained this difference and the anti Klein petition. Here is a response to the advocacy of Teach for America

Teach for America (TFA), which claims to be for equity in education, opposes education equity champion, Linda Darling-Hammond for Obama’s Secretary of Education and indeed, any role in the Obama administration! Why? In the words of TFA’s political arm, Leadership for Education Equity, Darling-Hammond’s appointment “COULD HAVE IMPLICATIONS FOR TFA!”

What is TFA afraid of? To ensure equity in education, Darling-Hammond has advocated for putting only qualified teachers in every classroom. She has opposed assigning unqualified teachers to the poorest and most vulnerable students. TFA teachers are just such unqualified teachers. Darling-Hammond’s research as well as the research of other objective education researchers has shown that the students of untrained TFA teachers do poorly on standardized tests compared to the students of trained teachers. Her research shows that once TFA teachers participate in quality teacher preparation programs and become qualified their students perform better. The problem is that 66% of TFA teachers never get trained. They leave at the end of 2 or 3 years. Darling-Hammond.

When put to the test, TFA puts its self interest above equity for students! TFA is supporting NYC School’s Chancellor for Education Secretary, because he will protect their organization, even though education equity under Klein has taken severe blows:
• Parents have been silenced. In a recent survey, more than 75% or parents felt that Klein was doing a poor job.
• The percentage of Black and Latino students admitted to NYC’s top performing high schools has declined!
• The percentage of Black and Latino students admitted to NYC’s gifted and talented programs has declined!
• The percentage of Black and Latino students admitted to NYC’s 4-year colleges has declined!
• The percentage of Black and Latino educators in the school system has declined!
• According to the NAEP, NYC students have made no gains in reading and math!
• Klein has only one person of color in his leadership team: the invisible position of Deputy Chancellor for Curriculum and Instruction.
• Klein has narrowed and dumbed-down the curriculum to all test-prep all of the time.

Tell the Obama transition team that you want a Secretary of Education who has a proven track record of equity in education. That is Linda Darling-Hammond! For over 20 years, Darling-Hammond has developed accountability policies and practices that focus on student learning and achievement, eliminating harmful practices and ensuring effective practices at the classroom, school, district, state and Federal levels. Her work is accepted by teachers, school, district, and state administrators, parents, policy makers, politicians, researchers, business leaders, and heads of teachers, principal and superintendent preparation programs. Like Obama, Darling-Hammond has been successful in bringing together diverse stakeholders to support education equity. She worked closely with former NY State Education Commission, Tom Sobol to develop NY’s standards, assessment, and accountability system.

If you like the education policies Obama has been discussing, let his transition team know that you want more of Linda Darling-Hammond: .
Jackie Ancess

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Its Darling-Hammond vs. Klien

The Opinion of Teach for America. Note, Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson has been a close associate of Teach for America.
Teach For America suggests it’s Darling-Hammond vs. Klein

by Elizabeth Green
In case you were not fully convinced, it appears that, yes, Teach For America is flexing its muscle to influence Barack Obama’s Secretary of Education pick. The organization is concerned about the possibility that Stanford professor Linda Darling-Hammond, who has criticized TFA and is chairing Obama’s education policy committee, could get a prominent role in the Obama administration.

In a mass e-mail today, Teach For America urged alumni to “stay on top of about [sic] what is happening and not happening regarding education reform at the national and local levels.” The e-mail (pasted below) also directed them to the Web site of TFA’s new political group, Leadership for Education Equity, where alumni are invited to post comments on several Web sites (including this one), saying, “Decision makers do watch online reactions.” We hope so!

Here’s the e-mail, after the jump:

Dear [Redacted],

Happy Thanksgiving! As you’re all relaxing and celebrating with friends and family this long weekend, you’ll undoubtedly discuss the local and national politics of the day. Toward that end, I want to encourage all of you to check out LEE (, our 501c4 sister organization (Leadership for Education Equity) that supports Teach For America alumni interested in political engagement and elected office.

As alumni and education reformers generally (regardless of our sector or political affiliation), we must stay on top of about what is happening and not happening regarding education reform at the national and local levels; I truly believe LEE is synthesizing this information better than any other source out there. I especially want to encourage all of you to read the article entitled: Wendy Kopp touted for Obama Cabinet and to share with your fellow alumni your perspectives on how President Elect Obama should staff and structure his education team.

If you haven’t been on the site in a while (or yet), you can sign up easily and/or use the “Forgot Password” function to change your password or be reminded of your username.

Following on the November 15 New York City alumni summit, the Teach For America New York City Alumni Affairs team will be following up with many of you who indicated interest in getting involved in the community organizing, local political engagement, and advocacy side of things.

Before your December calendar fills up completely, I wanted to make this particular opportunity — a citywide forum where you can voice your perspective on mayoral control of the New York City public schools — available to all of you: . Going forward, we’ll be posting many such opportunities on LEE, as well.

Have a wonderful holiday.

My best,

Jessica Cordova Kramer
Vice President, Alumni Affairs & District Strategy
Teach For America · New York City
519 8th Ave. - 15th Floor
New York, NY 10018
Tel. (212) 279-2666 x430
Fax (212)

Meanwhile here is the anti Klein effort which I authored;

The Petition to oppose the appointment of Joel Klein.

We, the undersigned, devoted thousands of hours of volunteer time to the election of Barack Obama as President. As Professional educators we were encouraged by the promise to have an open and respectful dialogue within the educational community about NCLB, its limits, and its failures.
Now, a trial balloon has been advanced in the media for Joel Klein, Chancellor of NYC schools to serve as U.S. Secretary of Education in an Obama Administration. ( It is quite possible that Klein himself promoted the trial balloon.) Trial balloons are trials. They are floated to see how people will react.
This petition is a reaction.
The administration of Joel Klein as Chancellor of Schools in New York City is representative of a particular rigid approach to school change promoted by NCLB which we oppose. Rather than take the advice of educators, Chancellor Klein repeatedly championed and implemented policies that support corporate interests as opposed to children. The NY City Department of Education under Joel Klein has been run like a ruthless dictatorship – with no input from parents or educators. Teachers have not been respected, consulted, nor listened to. And little thought has been devoted to how the policies he has imposed on our schools have been destructive to the children and their futures.

Teachers, educators, and future teachers, read the entire petition and sign it at:
Duane Campbell

Auto workers and bail outs

I am having a problem with the current media discussion of the proposed loan (bailout) of the auto industry. I have watched a number of programs including the Lehr News Hour, Lou Dobbs, and more. They usually have 2-3 commentators on the economy. One is from the Heritage Foundation, or the Cato Institute, both right wing think tanks.
The conversation goes on for awhile, then the designated commentator will say something like,
Well you know that the wage package and benefits of auto workers are just too high to sustain. There is going to have to be some wage reductions or benefit reductions.
Lets look at this. The average auto worker makes about $56,000 per year for working a 40 hour week for 50 weeks.
As far as I can tell none of the media commentators make so little. I think when they make this claim suggesting wage cuts they should be asked,
“And what is your salary?” “Do you have health care for your family?” Lou Dobbs make millions. The Heritage Foundation and Cato types make at least $90,000 per year. And, what do they produce? Hot air. Remember that finance capital, who they serve, paid their CEO’s in the millions of dollars per year.
Auto workers produce cars.
It is hard for me to judge the veracity of the commentators when they don’t disclose their own salaries and benefits.
See the piece below by Grieder.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Past and Future Economics: Greider

Past and Future


November 24, 2008

A year ago, when Barack Obama said it was time to turn the page, his campaign declaration seemed to promise a fresh start for Washington. I, for one, failed to foresee Obama would turn the page backward. The president-elect's lineup for key governing positions has opted for continuity, not change. Virtually all of his leading appointments are restoring the Clinton presidency, only without Mr. Bill. In some important ways, Obama's selections seem designed to sustain the failing policies of George W. Bush.

This is not the last word and things are changing rapidly. But Obama's choices have begun to define him. His victory, it appears, was a triumph for the cautious center-right politics that has described the Democratic party for several decades. Those of us who expected more were duped, not so much by Obama but by our own wishful thinking.
Let us stipulate that these are all honorable people, smart and experienced veterans of Washington combat. But they represent the Democratic party that mainly sees itself as managerial--making government work better. The long era of conservative dominance has taught them to keep their distance from big reform ideas that promise fundamental change of the system. Their operating style is incremental and cautiously practical. They conscientiously avoid (or actively block) propositions that sound too liberal or radical. Alas, Obama is coming to power at a critical moment when incrementalism is irrelevant. The system is in collapse. Financial chaos won't wait for patient deliberations.

Events have confronted Obama with a fearful symmetry between past and present, illustrated by his choice of economic advisers. On Friday, we learned that Timothy Geithner, president of the New York Federal Reserve, would become his new treasury secretary and Larry Summers, who held the same position in the Clinton administration, would be the White House overseer of economic policy. On Monday, Geithner was busy executing the government's massive rescue of Citicorp--the very banking behemoth that Geithner and Summers helped to create back in the Clinton years, along with Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan and Robert Rubin, Clinton's economics guru. Now Rubin is himself a Citicorp executive and his bank is now being saved by his old protégé (Geithner) with the taxpayers' money.

The connections go way beyond irony. They raise very serious questions about where the new president intends to lead and whether he has the nerve to break from the weak and haphazard strategy of the Bush administration. It has dumped piles of public money on the largest financial institutions and demanded little or nothing in return, hoping for the best. Geithner has been a central player in the deal-making, from Bear Stearns to AIG to Citi. The strategy has not only failed, it has arguably made things worse as savvy market players saw through the contradictions and rushed out to dump more bank stocks.

On Wall Street, Geithner is known as a highly competent technocrat, well versed in the financial complexities. But he has also been seen as a weak and compliant regulator of Wall Street firms, someone who did not seem the storm coming. Occasionally, Geithner would anguish publicly about the accumulating time bombs like credit derivatives and urge bankers to do something, but he did not use his supervisory powers to compel action. In bailout negotiations with Wall Street titans, Geithner and the Federal Reserve were spun around like a top more than once.

No wonder the stock markets rallied explosively when they heard Geithner would be their new boss in Washington. They think he is their guy. Summers may be a brilliant economist--everyone says so--but he, too, is a club member in good standing and now manages a huge hedge fund while he advises Obama. The president-elect needs to get a "second opinion"--someone from outside the financial club who can explain the flaws in the rescue strategy preached by Bush's treasury secretary Henry Paulson and Tim Geithner at the New York Fed.

Their approach has clearly been designed to preserve what's left of the Wall Street establishment and maintain the supremacy of the largest financial firms while the taxpayers pick up their losses. That model has failed and too many smart people know why. The bailouts have been too little too late and aimed at an impossible objective--persuading private capital investors to believe in the phony assurances proffered by the bankers. AIG, the insurance giant taken over by the feds, has turned into a bloody hemorrhage. Citigroup will be another and may soon be joined by other major banks demanding the same favorable terms. Wasting more public money on insolvent mastodons is the least of it. The real scandal is it doesn't work. It can't work because the black hole is too large even for Washington to fill. Government should take over the failing institutions or force them into bankruptcy, break them up and sell them off or mercifully relieve everyone, including the taxpayers.

Stock markets rallied again with the salvage of Citigroup. But not everyone in Wall Street was cheering. Christopher Whalen of Institutional Risk Analytics, the bank monitoring firm that has repeatedly been right about the banks when the government officials were wrong, had harsh words for the deal. "Pretending that Citi is going to be a going concern I think is silly," Whalen said. "We should be thinking about breaking this company up and redistributing the assets into stronger hands."

Will Timothy Geithner or Larry Summers advise the next president to face reality and throw in the towel? One hopes so, because Whalen warns: "By embracing Geithner, President-elect Obama is endorsing the ill-advised scheme to support AIG directed by Hank Paulson et al at Goldman Sachs and executed by Tim Geithner.... This scheme to stay AIG's resolution cannot possibly work and, when it does collapse, Barack Obama and his administration will wear the blame."

Barack Obama is too smart and perceptive to let this happen to his yet-unborn presidency. Maybe he should find out what Whalen knows.

About William Greider
National affairs correspondent William Greider has been a political journalist for more than thirty-five years. A former Rolling Stone and Washington Post editor, he is the author of the national bestsellers One World, Ready or Not, Secrets of the Temple, Who Will Tell The People, The Soul of Capitalism (Simon & Schuster) and--due out in February from Rodale--Come Home, America. more...
Copyright © 2008 The Nation

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Education and the Economy

Randi Weingarten’s Address On Education And The Economy
Randi Weingarten’s speech on education and the economy, delivered the morning of Nov. 17 at the National Press Club in Washington. The compilation begins with a clip of Mayor Bloomberg’s introduction. Here’s the full text of Randi’s speech [PDF].

Obama economic planning

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

California Education Cuts

A million dollars here, a million dollars there, pretty soon it adds up to real money.
We know that California faces a serious budget crisis and that K-12 and higher education will face severe budget cuts.
We are shocked by the governor’s proposals to cut $31.6 million from the CSU as of Oct 20, and the cut last year of 3.1 billion from K-12 education for 2008/2009. Now the governor plans an addition k-12 budget cut of over $ 2.1 Billion. California can not accept such an abandonment of its educational infrastructure. . We still consider ourselves bound by the promise of the Master Plan for Higher Education in California, and these cuts would break that promise.

It is a mystery to me why is the Governor and the legislature not looking for reasonable budget cuts rather than cutting education and health care.
Last year the Governor added $ 10 million to the CSU budget to pay for a Teacher Performance Assessment program (TPA). The TPA and/or PACT is a poorly designed, redundant and invalid process for assessing the quality of teacher credential candidates. The supporters of TPA seek to fix a problem that does not exist.

SB 2042, in 2000, required a major revision of teacher preparation in California based upon a new set of state standards and a set of teacher performance expectations (TPEs) . The universities have responded by revising their programs. In 2042 The legislature created a system where the state must continually train new teachers to replace those driven out by inadequate working conditions. One element of 2042 required the development of high stakes performance assessment of California teachers (TPA) based upon the teacher performance expectations (TPE) to be developed by the Commission on Teacher Credentialing.
The problems with this are several. There is no evidence that TPAs are valid measures of good teaching. To the contrary, our experience tells us that one-time all-or-nothing tests like the TPA are among the poorest possible ways to predict the likelihood that a test-taker will be an excellent California teacher. Beyond this overwhelming substantive concern about the damage to teacher education, we must also point out that the implementation of TPA assessment was initially contingent upon state funding. But SB 1209 in 2006 removed the funding requirement and required implementation of the TPA throughout the CSU effective July 1, 2008, imposing a new low quality accountability system on teacher preparation programs in addition to the performance assessments currently in place, without providing the funding needed to pay for the new program.
In the May revise the Governor added $91 million to the CSU budget and asserted that $10 million was for TPA. There was no controlling legislative language.
Thus the legislature and CTC have imposed an expensive, redundant accountability system – one the state cannot afford in its current budget crisis. Not that we want the TPA program funded -- it would be a gross injustice to add funding for performance assessment into the budget when our schools are having to increase class sizes, lay off teachers, reduce career technical education, cancel transportation, and delay long needed school reforms.

In place of the current system of on-site supervision of student teachers, future teachers would be measured ultimately on how well they produce a twenty minute video tape of a classroom; not at all an authentic assessment of teaching performance.
CSU Campuses who have tried early pilot versions of this system –TPA and PACT- have found that the system angers and frustrates teachers and our students, and limits the quality of the credential process and therefore is likely to discourage many potential candidates from entering a credential program.
It is frustrating to try to understand why TPA and PACT have not been cut from the budget to save money for essentials. Last year Senator Jack Scott was the primary supporter of TPA, and few wished to offend this powerful senator. But, now he is termed out. Several of his education staff remain on the education committee and they are clearly committed to TPA.
Is it just that the bureaucracy can not admit that it was wrong? Or, since the CSU is preparing to pass the costs along to the student, they think that it is off their budget. But, that is clearly a tax on future teachers. If any reader can explain this lack of interest in saving budget money, please let me know.

Duane Campbell

Sunday, November 16, 2008

NCLB : a diminished view of school reform

Dear President-Elect Obama,
As one of the millions of Americans thrilled by your historic victory, I am heartened by your pledge to pay long-overdue attention to improving – and adequately funding – America’s schools.

Your comments on reforming the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) have been especially welcome. As you know, the misguided use of “high-stakes” testing under this law has brought numerous unintended consequences. Not least of these is a teaching-to-the-test mentality that has impoverished the educational experience of the children it was intended to help. For poor and minority students, children with special needs, and English language learners (ELLs), the school curriculum now consists largely of mind-numbing drills in the two tested subjects, reading and math. As a result, millions are being deprived of opportunities to learn critical thinking skills, develop talents in music and art, become physically fit, and excel in science and social studies.

For ELLs in particular, educational options have been narrowed by the high-stakes use of standardized tests in a language these children have yet to master. Despite widespread agreement that such assessments are neither valid nor reliable, they are nevertheless being used to make major decisions about students’ promotion and graduation, teachers’ pay and career prospects, and even school restructuring.

One perverse result has been to eliminate or marginalize proven pedagogies like bilingual education, which is now available to only 13% of ELLs, down from 37% in 1992. Such programs have been replaced, in many cases, with approaches that have no scientific support and essentially amount to intensive preparation to fill in the bubbles on English-language tests. It’s no accident that, under NCLB, the achievement gap is growing in most states between ELLs and their English-proficient peers.

In short, American schools are far more unequal today than they were seven years ago, when NCLB was enacted. Which is ironic, considering that the law was sold as a way to overcome “the soft bigotry of low expectations” and enhance the achievement of “all students.”

The problem, in my view, is that NCLB represents a diminished vision of civil rights. Rather than tackle the structural inequities among our schools; rather than ensure adequate funding for K-12 education; and rather than address social, health, and economic conditions that impair children’s readiness to learn, the sponsors of NCLB sought to do education reform on the cheap. It was much easier to establish an arbitrary and punitive accountability system, which placed blame for underachievement on schools and educators alone, than to hold all policymakers and stakeholders accountable. It was politically convenient to mandate a simplistic panacea – reliance on standardized tests as the instrument of reform – instead of providing serious support for building schools’ capacity to serve children whose needs have been neglected.

Clearly, the nation is far from a consensus on how to reauthorize the next version of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. In the outgoing Congress, both Democrats and Republicans, liberals and conservatives, were so divided among themselves that they were unable to move forward on reforming NCLB. Indeed, I think it’s fair to say that the differences are bipartisan.

While this situation will certainly complicate your leadership in the area of school reform, it could also offer some advantages. Precisely because the traditional ideological divisions play a limited role here, you are in a position to organize a broad, civil, and inclusive discussion on how to make American schools the best in the world – not just for the privileged but for the children who most need our help.

My organization, which consists of educators, parents, students, and advocates in 36 states who are dedicated to improving schools for English language learners, will be pleased to help support your efforts in any way we can. Please feel free to call on us as needed.

James Crawford, President
Institute for Language and Education Policy
P.O. Box 5960
Takoma Park, MD 20913

Saturday, November 15, 2008

2900 Sign Petition: Oppose Joel Klien

Over 2,900 teachers and educators have now signed the petition urging Barack Obama to not appoint Joel Klein, Chancellor of New York City Schools to become Secretary of Education.
You can read the comments. The teachers in New York city have a lot to say.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Petition: Oppose Joel Klein

The Petition to oppose the appointment of Joel Klein.

We, the undersigned, devoted thousands of hours of volunteer time to the election of Barack Obama as President. As Professional educators we were encouraged by the promise to have an open and respectful dialogue within the educational community about NCLB, its limits, and its failures.
Now, a trial balloon has been advanced in the media for Joel Klein, Chancellor of NYC schools to serve as U.S. Secretary of Education in an Obama Administration. ( It is quite possible that Klein himself promoted the trial balloon.) Trial balloons are trials. They are floated to see how people will react.
This petition is a reaction.
The administration of Joel Klein as Chancellor of Schools in New York City is representative of a particular rigid approach to school change promoted by NCLB which we oppose. Rather than take the advice of educators, Chancellor Klein repeatedly championed and implemented policies that support corporate interests as opposed to children. The NY City Department of Education under Joel Klein has been run like a ruthless dictatorship – with no input from parents or educators. Teachers have not been respected, consulted, nor listened to. And little thought has been devoted to how the policies he has imposed on our schools have been destructive to the children and their futures.

Teachers, educators, and future teachers, read the entire petition and sign it at:

Duane Campbell

Friday, November 07, 2008

Joe Klein, Not for Secretary of Education

A trial balloon has been advanced for Joe Klein, Chancellor of NYC schools to serve as U.S. Secretary of Education in an Obama Administration. ( It is quite possible that Klein himself promoted the trial balloon.)
Trial balloons are trials. They are floated to see how people will react.
Here is a reaction from some activists with Class Size Matters in New York City.

The Department of Education under Joel Klein has been run like a ruthless dictatorship – with no input from parents or educators, and no thought of how the policies he has imposed on our schools have been destructive to our children and their futures.
He has consistently ignored the crisis of overcrowding in our schools. Thousands of children are being given special services in hallways or in closets.
Joel Klein has refused to reduce class size, despite repeated audits and reports from the State Comptroller’s office and the State Education Department showing how under his administration, hundreds of millions of state dollars meant to provide smaller classes to NYC students have been misused.

He has spent literally hundreds of millions of dollars on no-bid contracts, and rather than decreasing the bureaucracy, the number of highly paid bureaucrats continues to grow --- most of whom have no background in education.
The only educational philosophy of those running the system is based on trying to improve standardized test results, no matter how much cheating and test prep that involves. Whatever the rise in state test scores that has resulted is not matched by improvements in the more reliable national assessments called the NAEPs. In fact, NYC was 11th out of 12 urban school districts in New York in terms of its gains in the NAEPs over the course of this administration, and there has been no closing of the achievement gap in any subject tested.

Leonie Haimson
Executive Director
Class Size Matters

So, if you think Joe Klein is a bad idea, this is a good time to say so. Letters to the editor, to blogs, and other forms of sharing information are encouraged.

An Important Win

Obama won so overwhelmingly in large part because of Howard Dean's 50 state strategy as chairman of the national Democratic party. After the Democrats romped in the 2006 elections, James Carville and a couple of allies called for Dean to be replaced because they didn't do even better. Democratic state leaders from all over the country rallied to Dean's support, and Carville fell on his face. Hillary was the DLC dog in this race, and Obama the one who stopped them. It is cynical and probably mistaken to assume that Obama is in DLC's pocket just because of a few appointments. To dismiss Obama and Dean's victory over the DLC is to miss or ignore a pretty important aspect of contemporary Amercan political history. Some have argued strongly if cynically that Obama is essentially a neoliberal barely distinguishable from the Clintons -- a position which itself is barely distinguishable from ISO's. (They said the same thing about Edwards.)

But it appears most people think Obama's victory including 3 Southern states (Virginia, Florida and NC) and 3 Western (Colorado, Nevada and New Mexico), the defeats of Sununu and Dole, the election of 2 Udalls to the Senate, and on and on, signals a significant departure potentially analogous to Roosevelt's New Deal. Is it our sad niche to stand aside and say, "We know better than all of you. Don't get your hopes up, the game is fixed"? Again, ISO does that to perfection. And they're wrong - and profoundly un-democratic.

On election day, a Queens race proved to be the fulcrum for flipping the NY state senate democratic for the first time in almost 50 years as Republican incumbent Serphim Maltese lost 58-42 to Dem-WFP Joe Addabbo Jr.. Control of the state senate [still in limbo] will result in progressive taxation, repeal of the Rockefeller drug laws, repealing vacancy decontrol for one million regulated NYC apartments, nonpartisan (or less partisan) redistricting, campaign finance reforms and other interim victories which will strengthen the Left and make future victories more likely.
Kenny Schaeffer . NYC.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Obama Campaign: Tom Hayden

Main Lesson:
Really Counted

By Tom Hayden

Friends, the lesson I draw from tonight's election returns is that everything really counts.

Look at the results at this point: Obama gets a huge electoral college victory because that's where he threw his resources [for example, $40 million into Florida, outspending McCain 4-to-1 in Virginia, etc]. He wins a bunch of battleground states by two percent, losing none. His popular vote is 51-48 percent. The best presidential campaign ever run, the Wall Street collapse in the foreground, and Barack sweeps – by two and three percent margins.

I think of Jessica Levy, a grad school dropout in North Carolina who took on the reddest part of the state, raised her own money, opened an office, set voter registration records, established a goal of running up Barack's numbers in an area still influenced by the KKK tradition.

Type rest of the post herePeople like Jessica made North Carolina 50-50 and, collectively, they made the difference for Barack in the key states. They are the foundation of our movement now and in the future.

It was everything they did - the 23,000 people who went through Obama's training, the millions poured in from, AFSCME and SEIU, the quiet volunteers who worked the phones 24/7, and of course, the presence of an incredible candidate and superior campaign team.

Unfortunately, many of our progressive friends did little or nothing for the Obama campaign while spending so much of their time on his shortcomings. Many of them seemed more comfortable with a scenario where they could blame him for losing than credit him for winning.

I heard one of our friends tonight actually claiming that the election protection movement forced Karl Rove's minions to "throw in the towel" just this week rather than risk rigging another national election.

What a strange idea! The election protection movement was definitely an important factor in making theft more difficult, but the point is that there was an election worth protecting, and that's what made thousands of lawyers and ordinary citizens drop everything and become observers and litigators at sites around the country.

In my experience, only good things happen when 96 percent of the African American community is united, when two-thirds of Latinos are united, when unprecedented numbers of young voters are turning out, when thousands of activists are becoming a new generation of organizers. I am more interested in what these energized throngs of people throw themselves into next than what the sidelined Left proposes that they do.

I haven't heard any of the Obama grass-roots supporters proposing that we expand the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, extend NAFTA or tinker around with global warming. They are our newest best hope for creating the climate and the pressure necessary to achieve social change, and we need to listen, follow and work with them. A new New Left is at hand, and we need to avoid the irony of becoming the Old Left.

Unions and elections

From the American Federation of Teachers
“So much about this campaign has been historic and electrifying,” Weingarten said. “The incredible voter interest Barack Obama generated, especially among young, independent and first-time voters; the sea change in voting patterns across America; and the election of America’s first African-American president are all extraordinary milestones for our country. I am hopeful that this civic excitement and engagement will be sustained for the benefit of our great democracy.
“At a time when the focus on strengthening public education has been all but eclipsed by other issues, Sen. Obama has shown both deep understanding of, and real interest in, the need to ensure every child receives a world-class education. The members and leaders of the AFT welcome President-elect Obama’s commitment to working together to strengthen public education. We look forward to partnering with him and with members of both parties to fulfill this promise.”
The AFT’s political operation in the 2008 elections was unprecedented. The union deployed nearly 600 full-time campaign coordinators and 5,000 volunteers to assist affiliates and the AFL-CIO in member-education and get-out-the-vote efforts. Since endorsing Sen. Obama at its national convention in July, the AFT made more than 4 million contacts with its membership, including phone calls, mail, leaflets and—the means of communication proven to be most effective—direct member-to-member contact at home and at the workplace.
“We were in more states, with a greater presence, than ever before. And it worked,” Weingarten said. “I saw this firsthand in the 18 states I have visited since becoming AFT president in July.”
States with a strong AFT and union presence made a decisive difference in the elections, not only in choosing the next president, but also in giving him a Congress to work with that will champion the concerns of working people and will support public education and other vital public services.
“Barack Obama will be a president for all Americans,” Weingarten said. “For Americans from every state in the Union, for those who enjoy great wealth as well as those who suffer terrible want, for Americans of every color, creed and walk of life. This is the time for our country to come together in common purpose to create a better life for all Americans.
“President-elect Obama faces considerable challenges—a severe economic crisis, a broken healthcare system, the needs of an aging population, enormous infrastructure strains and American troops engaged in two wars. But he is welll-equipped to lead our country, which is unparalleled in its ability and determination to face such challenges.”
From AFT Release

Podesta: Troubled Waters

Amid all the elation about Obama's victory, let's not forget that the struggle over NCLB is far from over. During the campaign, he made some encouraging statements about the abuses of testing and the need to increase federal funding for K-12. But his positions on the most contentious reauthorization issues were not very specific. Thus the direction an Obama Administration will take is anybody's guess.

Today's Washington Post -- -- includes a couple of ominous notes on this score:

1. Obama has asked John Podesta, former Clinton chief of staff and currently head of the Center for American Progress, to head his transition team. CAP is a liberal think-tank that's been among the most uncritical supporters of NCLB. Last year Podesta teamed up with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to release a report bashing American schools, claiming that the vast majority of students are not proficient in reading. As Gerald Bracey pointed out, using the same absurd and arbitrary "proficiency" level, the identical conclusion could be reached about students anywhere in the world, including the top-scoring country, Sweden.

Unfortunately, whoever heads the transition team has a big say in major appointments -- e.g., U.S. Secretary of Education.

2. Among the trial balloons -- a.k.a. "names being mentioned" -- for that job is Joel Klein, chancellor of NYC schools and a big supporter of high-stakes testing, among other odious practices. No doubt New Yorkers on the list can provide additional details.

Along with Al Sharpton, Klein is co-chairing the Education Equality Project -- the Defend NCLB pole in the reauthorization debate: During the campaign, Obama's top education advisor has been Linda Darling-Hammond of Stanford, who is decidedly not in the Klein-Sharpton camp. In fact, she's a representative of the other major pole, which calls itself A Broader, Bolder Approach to Education:

Many people have speculated that Prof. Darling-Hammond would be a logical choice for Secretary of Education. But that may just be wishful thinking on the part of progressives. She's not among any of the names being leaked, as far as I've seen. Other names that are being mentioned: former Sen. David Boren of Oklahoma, a conservative Democrat, and former Gov. Tom Kean of New Jersey, a moderate Republican. Neither is known to be critical of NCLB.

As I noted in my previous message, we have our work cut out for us.
Jim Crawford. ELL Advocates.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Election results

Like all who worked so long and hard for this victory, I am elated at the Obama win.
See below:

And, Oregon voters defeated Prop.58 which would have banned bilingual education- like California’s Prop.227.

On the other hand, the battle for California Prop.8- the ban on gay marriage has been lost. A major defeat.

The mobilization of the Evangelical Right to pass Prop.8 counteracted the mobilization of the Obama campaign. We lost some close Congressional races such as Cal. Districts 3 and 4 due to this Right wing mobilization. We seem to have lost district 4 by only 400 votes- Charlie Brown V. McClintock although thousands of votes are yet to be counted.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Labor's Vote

Working Californians Pound the Pavement for Change

By Art Pulaski
Executive Secretary-Treasurer
California Labor Federation

This campaign season has drawn high enthusiasm among union activists. In my travels around the state, I found more union volunteers than I’ve seen in years. That level of union member commitment is key, because our research shows that nothing is more persuasive than workers talking to their co-workers about the issues: the economy, health care, retirement security and job security.

This election season, union members are hearing about pro-worker issues and candidates at the worksite, on the phone, in the mail and at their doors. Through our 2.1 million members, we’ve reached nearly four million California voters. We’ve distributed over 150,000 flyers on key legislative races at worksites across the state, and dropped nearly 2 million pieces of mail. 12,500 union volunteers have made hundreds of thousands of phone calls and knocked on thousands of union members’ doors.

We are riding the tsunami of change that Barack Obama is creating at the top of the ticket. Obama is talking about the economic issues that workers care about, and that energy and enthusiasm is boiling over into hot legislative races up and down the state.

Union members have put incredible effort into these competitive races, where we have the chance to replace anti-worker legislators with those who will stand with working families.

In Assembly District 10, new voter registration numbers show Democrats have made significant gains and are almost equal to Republicans. These new numbers help put Alyson Huber within striking distance of pulling off a big upset over Jack Sieglock (R). Unions have launched a massive campaign to educate voters about Sieglock's bad record as a career politician.

Joan Buchanan (D) is leading her opponent, Abram Wilson (R), in Assembly District 15, thanks to union volunteers who made almost 15,000 calls to union households in that district. That’s almost exactly the same as the margin of victory in this district during the last competitive election.

In Assembly District 26, momentum is building for John Eisenhut. This is an extremely tight race, but a big push from the Democratic Party, along with over 26,000 calls and door visits by union volunteers, could push Eisenhut over the top.

Fran Florez scored big in the court of public opinion in Assembly District 30, with key endorsements from the Fresno Bee and the Bakersfield Californian – the two biggest papers in the district. We’ve moved more than 100 union volunteers into AD 30 for the final four days.

In Assembly District 78, retired union member Marty Block has been making major strides in the polls. His popularity among workers was clear last weekend, when nearly 400 union members and supporters came out to walk precincts to support Block.

Manuel Perez has run a strong campaign in Assembly District 80, and has easily withstood ineffective attacks by the opposition.

In Senate District 5, Lois Wolk has a modest lead in the polls, and over 300 union members walked the precinct this weekend to keep support growing for her.

Thanks in large part to union volunteers, tracking polls show a dead heat between Hannah-Beth Jackson (D) and her opponent, Tony Strickland (R) in Senate District 19. A win in this district would leave Democrats only one seat away from a two-thirds majority in the Senate. Our labor council leader dispatched 152 union volunteers from her home on Saturday.

With a record turnout expected and a surge in voter registrations, more seats are coming into play every day, including AD 36 (Lancaster), AD 37 (Simi Valley), CD 3 (Sacramento), CD 45 (Palm Springs), CD 46 (Orange County) and CD 50 (San Diego).

Labor Councils throughout the state have gone above and beyond to get out the worker vote. The L.A. County Federation of Labor has vowed to make 500,000 by the end of the campaign, and they’re on pace to make it happen. In San Joaquin County, we’ve reached our goal of contacting over 5,000 union voters. In San Diego, Alameda, and Orange counties, volunteers have come out in record numbers, and in Sacramento, the phone banks and the precinct walks are packed every day.

Working families understand that we cannot afford more of the same in Sacramento and Washington. We need a new direction, one that promises things like job security, retirement protection and affordable health care. That’s why we are putting our all into this election.

For more election resources or to find a labor-sponsored campaign event in your area, visit

Art Pulaski is Executive Secretary-Treasurer of the California Labor Federation, AFL-CIO, which represents 2.1 million members of 1,200 manufacturing, service, construction, and public sector unions. For more information, visit

From California Progress Report

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Schwarzenegger campaigns for McCain

California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger put aside his appeals to post-partisan politics on Friday in favor of taking up John McCain’s party line during a campaign rally for McCain in Columbus, Ohio, but some of that message seemed to conflict with Schwarzenegger’s own practices in office.

“I think there will be a backlash against all of this lopsided spending,” Schwarzenegger proclaimed at a campaign rally in Columbus.

And he knows something about lavish spending.

In California, the bodybuilder-turned actor-turned politician has become the most prolific political fundraiser in state history. He has used his Hollywood status to rake in at least $132 million since he launched his gubernatorial bid in 2003.
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